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Shoppers say goodbye to historic Seattle Macy’s before closure

The historic downtown Macy's is expected to close in February 2020.

SEATTLE — With the news that Macy's is closing its historic downtown Seattle store, some are visiting one last time for old times sake, and business experts say the closure is a sign of how retail is changing. 

The historic building at 3rd and Pine has been a shopping destination for 90 years. 

“We came all the way from Olympia on the bus to honor it, to say goodbye to Macy’s,” said Colleen Glastetter of Olympia.

News broke over the weekend that the retail giant is pulling out of downtown Seattle. It's a decision that's not exactly a surprise to some business experts.

“The cost of doing business in a physical retail store, especially in prime real estate in downtown Seattle. The business logic of that is completely overturned," said Sandeep Krishnamurthy, dean of the University of Washington Bothell's School of Business. 

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It's not only the cost of a physical store that's a hardship, but also big-box stores like Macy's, Nordstrom, and JCPenney having to compete with online retailers. 

“Every single physical retailer of this ilk is going to face these kinds of pressures,” Krishnamurthy said.

Pressure from online retailers is something the downtown Macy's has felt, literally from the top down. 

Two years ago, Amazon leased the top six floors of the building for 1,500 of its employees. 

Meanwhile, the Downtown Seattle Association contends that retail isn't dead.

The organization pointed to the $2 billion in yearly sales via brick and mortar stores, with a half-billion dollars in investments along Pike and Pine Streets.

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“It’s unfortunate that the box stores like that are losing business to companies like Amazon. It’s kind of sad for me to see an icon like that for many years in Seattle close down,” said Beth Steuart of Little Rock, Arkansas.

While Macy's is moving out of downtown, it's not moving out of Washington state. The retailer will keep its stores in surrounding areas as the company works to develop and grow its online presence.

The downtown location is expected to close in February 2020. 

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